Since my entry to the ##Instructables Epilog Challenge, I’ve been dreaming having a laser cutter as an efficient way of producing eco-friendly paper-only lanterns as seen in my entry ##Quasicrystal Star Lantern . I recently called up a local business with a laser cutter to see if they could cut a stack of Quasicrystal Star Lanterns because I’m about to do my first expedition in retail sales with our Cosmic SpaceCrafts line and I wanted to see if I could get a handful of the first in our EarthBound SpaceCrafts on shelves. Well, to my utter dismay, I found out that you can’t cut stacks of paper with a laser cutter because they catch on fire, eeek ! That’s what the local business told me, and I confirmed it with the customers support at Epilog. Feeling a sense of disappointment, I embraced the opportunity to practice equanimity in the face of the challenge.
The Epilog Challenge pages asks participants to “be sure to tell us what you’ll do with the Zing if you win!” so now that my main purpose for wanting a laser cutter has … um, gone up on smoke … I’m having to rethink my agenda. Now I am re-framing my agenda for wanting a laser cutter as I will outline it here.
First of all, I work in the spirit of a technical pioneer, or a “hacker” in the truest sense of the word (using things for a purpose other than that which they were intend for). So, if given an Epilog Zing, I would make all efforts to discover ways of efficiently cutting stacks of paper. I’ve already gotten to thinking about whether waterproofing paper using a solution of soap, beeswax, and alum (as I’ve seen on the net) would reduce the flammability. I later found out that borax is a natural flame retardant so I’m curious to know whether adding that to the solution would make stackable laser-cuttable paper. I’m also curious to know about using fans or even high-pressure jets of air to keep the paper cool. I promise I’ll be safe And of course, in the spirit of Open Source crafting, I’ll be sure to share the results of my experiments on my blog.
Another realm of experimentation that is needed to expand the capabilities of the Epilog Zing for the purposes of The Playful Geometer is to explore the possibilities cutting stacked laser-cuttable screen or offset prints on waterproof substrates. Information on this application has been hard-to-find. The only product I have seen capable of doing this is the Graphix Laser Pro which is only screen-printable. It seems laser cutting is not well-suited to doing contour cutting on laminated paper because the laminating pouch prevents the material from sitting perfectly square to the image, hence the interest in other methods of producing our Cosmic SpaceCrafts. The use of cellulose acetate, which is fully biodegradable is another material to be investigated for stack-cutting.
Despite the stunning effect of full-color graphics embeded in polyhedral lanterns using laminated prints, the use of plastic does hurt my environmental sensibilities, and with a laser cutter I could be working with wood instead of plastic. If I am rewarded the grand prize, I will attempt to create similar structures as seen on my contest entry with wood veneer, and if successful, publish the finished products as similar step-by-step instructables. I’m seeing a satisfying vision of the instructables staff creating these and hanging them in their office/workshop.
If it is possible to create polyhedra with wood veneer and the SlideTab system, I could produce a line of hollow building blocks for toddlers etched with inspiring imagery. The blocks could come in a stack of flat panels that could be easily assembled by parents. This would be much less resource-intensive than the old-school solid blocks of wood, and much less dangerous, as they would be extremely light. Another alternative would be to use interlocking teeth to connect edges of a cube. Again, if given the grand prize, I would gladly post instructions on how to build such a product on instructables.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I would like to use a laser cutter to produce affordable phi calipers made out of wood as seen on this page. The vision is to package it as a “The Magic of Geometry Exploration Pack” with an educational handbook on how to use it.
However, I just realized that I don’t even have to wait for the prospect of a laser cutter in order to put together an instructable on that, I start prototyping cutlines for a cardboard edition that could be made with my cutter/plotter or even a box cutter.
I have a lot of brilliant artist friends and I would love to help them market their designs by etching glass, mirror, wood, and other materials with their designs that they could then sell to the general public.
I’m also interested in sharing etched imagery of Crop Circles images as I have published in my ##Crop Circle Remix Pack. I’ve done this with acid etch on mirrors but have never been satisfied with the imperfect results and thus have made little effort to market/share them. Mandalas are meant to be made with natural materials to embrace impermanance of life, like the beautiful coloured sand of the Tibetan mandalas or the bent wheat of the crop circles themselves, so the fusion of technology as means and nature as medium really appeals to me. I recently got a quote from Ponoko on making 4 sets of 6 cardstock coasters etched with crop circle imagery and it was going to cost $170+ so I would really need my own machine to produce them.
In general, I understand that geometric symbolism has a transformative effect on the mind of the perceiver and the energy of the spaces they inhabit. This is the reason why places of worship from the temples of Egypt to the churches that some still pray in today are designed with very precise numbers and ratios, their construction guided by universal laws observed in nature. To those who might be skeptical of the concrete changes that the use of Sacred Geometery can affect, I point to the field of Biogeometry as expounded by Ibrahim Karim. Under a scientific model he has effectively quelled severe EMF radiation poisoning using only specific 2D and 3D symbols made with no special materials as explained in the following news report.
My hopes for the longer term is that I can combine the fields of Biogeometry and what I call SpaceCraft Engineering to assist in purifying the impinging “electrosmog” accumulating in our environments. A laser cutter could really assist in research and development in this field. Hopefully with a laser cutter I could raise the funds to take the training required to be a professional in this field to enable this development.